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Improvements ahead for elective services

Media Release

25 July 2006

Improvements ahead for elective services

The Ministry of Health is working with representatives from the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and other relevant groups to further improve New Zealanders' access to elective surgical services.

Although hospital based care is dominated by dealing with emergency (acute) cases, which are managed well, it is often non-urgent care (electives) which generates considerable public concern.

Finding ways to better manage elective services within District Health Boards (DHBs) is important for maintaining public confidence in publicly funded health services.

A number of Working Parties are being established to look for ways to improve efficiency and productivity.

Dr David Geddis, Chief Medical Advisor says, "The sector-based working parties are about engaging with the most relevant people within the sector.

"For each area that is identified as needing improvement we are approaching people with expertise in that area to be a part of that working group."

"Ministry staff are a part of the groups but we are primarily there to facilitate and co-ordinate. It is for the experts, the people who are dealing with this every day, to come up with the ideas."

"What the working Parties are doing is looking for ways to get the maximum use out of the resources we have available."

Some of the work identifying problems has already been done. A working party was established in 2005 to look at the barriers to developing innovative ways to deliver elective services. It identified seven particular areas.

The Minister has challenged the DHBs to find ways to address these areas. The Ministry is working with DHBs on how best to do this and is in the process of developing a workplan for this area.

Dr Geddis says, "The Addressing Disincentives Working Party Report went out to the CEOs of all the DHBs for comment. When we received their comments back it was clear that there was consensus around a number of ideas. We are, right at this minute, looking at potential pilot schemes and hope to have some of these in place before the end of the year."

The next group to get underway is the Theatre Efficiency Working Party which is made up of representatives from the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, as well as anaesthetists, theatre nurses and theatre managers from various DHBs. Their first meeting will take place early August.

Plans are also in place to set up a Working Party looking at addressing acute demand as it's clear that an increase in acute cases coming through hospital doors makes it very difficult for DHBs to meet their elective service targets

For further information, please refer to the Addressing Disincentives Working Party Report


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